Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bold Prayer or Not?

Do I think boldness really matters in my prayer life? Of course it does, why bother to pray for if you are not going to pray for bold things? Dave Earley says, “The more precise the prayer, the more faith it takes. If you want specific answers to prayer, you need to make specific request. If you offer only general request, how will you know if they are answered?”[1] This is a common problem in the Christian life, we are often afraid to ask for the things that we truly need and stick to only general request. Why do we stick to only general request? Fear, is the biggest culprit, it makes a stick to general request assuming God will answer those; because if we asked for specific request and never saw the response to our petitions our faith will grow even weaker in God.
            The very first thing I think of when I think of a biblical example where boldness made a difference in prayer has to be Joshua. Think of the boldness that was required for this man to pray to God to stop the sun for moving, so that he can continue in battle. Joshua didn’t just pray for victory he prays for the Lord to do something only he could do make the earth stop rotating around the sun. Joshua had to be taught this boldness; he learned it from his mentor Moses. Moses on more than one occasion stood in the gap for the children of Israel, causing God to turn his wrath away from them.
            Three applications that become can be taken away from Earley’s book are in no particular order fasting, praying more boldly (or more specifically), and to pray a larger variety of prayers. I have seen the effects of fasting personally in my life, back in August 2012, I was struggling with health problems and a group of brothers from Bible study unbeknownst to me individually fasted for me; and on the last day I fasted for myself. In regards to fasting Earley makes a great statement that we have to constantly keep at the forefront of our minds, “God is not an ATM into which we put our prayer and/or fasting and automatically get back what we want. God is God.”[2] also need to be more intentional and specific in the way that I pray. It’s often more convenient to pray a generic prayer; so that I can cross the task off my list. By praying more specific prayers, it will draw me closer to the Lord and increase my faith. Last but not least I need to pray a greater variety of prayers. Earley says
Not only did David pray, but he prayed a variety of prayers. David prayed simple prayers and complex ones. He prayed tears. He asked questions. He made both resolutions in prayed big prayers of faith. He also used balance. A pray prayers of adoration, confession, Thanksgiving, and supplication. God is a person. He has personality. We are people. We have personality. Prayer is expressing the many facets of our personality and our situation to the many aspects of God’s personality. One type of prayer will not do. We need to pray with all kinds of prayers (Ephesians 6:18).[3]

            There is always more that we can learn, but I hope this helps us all to grow and depend on Christ all the more.

[1] Dave Earley, Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders. (Chattanooga: Living Ink Books, 2008)117.

[2] Ibid., 103.
[3] Ibid., 128.

A Glimpse at Different Forms of Theology

            Let’s begin by laying down the definitions for all of the different orders of theology that are mentioned above. First we have biblical theology, according to Elwell, “Biblical theology sets forth the message of biblical books by author or other scheme of grouping.”[1]Paul Enns in his handbook on theology clarifies biblical theology when he says, “In contrast to systematic theology, which draws its information about God from any and every source, biblical theology has a narrower focus, drawing its information from the Bible (and from historical information that expands or clarifies the historical events of the Bible).”[2]
            According to Elwell, “Historical theology traces the churches faith topically through the various eras of its history.”[3] In Elwell there is no mention of philosophical theology, however there is the mention of practical theology which is the application of systematic theology to every aspect of life.[4] There have been several references to systematic theology, but no definition; Elwell defines it like this, “Systematic theology incorporates the data of exegetical, biblical, and historical theology to construct a coherent representation of the Christian faith.”[5] Enns takes it even farther when he says, “Systematic theology may be defined as the collecting, scientifically arranging, comparing, exhibiting, and defending of all facts from any and every source concerning God and His works.”[6] Now that all of these different areas of theology have been defined it makes since to say that systematic theology is the gathering together of all the different forms of theology. Biblical theology builds upon Scripture, historical theology helped to build systematic theology of the centuries as certain doctrines have developed.
            Personally systematic theology with a good mix of biblical/covenant theology are the most important to my current ministry and hopefully my future role as a pastor. Without systematic theology it is hard to explain the concepts of the trinity, sin, Christology, and etc. Then being a reformed Presbyterian, I believe in covenant theology and showing how they continued to build upon each other throughout Scripture. It is through those promises we can take comfort, and seek to live lives pleasing and wholly devoted unto God. As a pastor they will all be important; however when doing aspects of evangelism systematic theology will be king, allowing me to break down different doctrines found throughout Scripture and supported by history.

[1] Walter A Elwell, ed. Evangelical Dicitonary of Theology. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001)1164.
            [2] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008)22-23.            
[3] Elwell, 1164.
[4] Ibid., 1164.
[5] Ibid., 1164.
[6] Enns, Moody Handbook, 149.